Thursday, September 29, 2005

Punctuate this

I've just put down the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. I'd have to say, it's easily the most enthusiastic and humorous account I've read of the curly-tailed world of punctuation; however...

방금 란 책을 읽어버렸다. 구두법에 대한 책중 쉽게 가장 열광적이고 유머러스한 걸 말할수 있는데...

Punctuation, as she quotes in her introduction, is "a courtesy designed to help readers to understand a story without stumbling".

There's a surprising amount of emotion here too: the expectation of semi-colons; the elaborative, 'surprise-me' colon; the music of the bracket, the question mark and the exclamation mark; the lift-out italics; the dramatic whisper of the dash and the friendly inclusiveness of the double dash; the seemingly ill-starred hyphen; the intriguing trail-off of elipses...

I particularly like this:
"In the family of punctuation, where the full stop is daddy and the comma is mummy, and the semi-colon quietly practises the piano with crossed hands, the exclamation mark is the big attention-deficit brother who gets over-excited and breaks things and laughs too loudly."
The short discussion at the end on the effects the electronic age, Netspeak and emoticons ("a paltry substitute for expressing oneself properly") are having on the language is also worth a look, or a re-read.

EFL - Shaking her pen defiantly,...

Writing. I've been doing a lot of it with my classes this month. Three writing classes in fact, and the marking's been unenviable. However, a few interesting ideas have come out of this.

쓰기. 이번월 수업들에 이걸 많이 했다. 사실, 쓰기 수업 3개 있으므로 채점이 부럽지 않았다. 그렇지만 몇몇의 좋은 생각이 일어났다.

Sporting the slogan "where getting your daily writing 'fix' is considered much more important than fixing your writing", I find the site Writing Fix a great source of inspiration for creative writing, whether it's personal or for the classroom.

The most successful activity so far has been the writing storms. Taking a simple starting phrase, students have just 3 minutes to write the next section of the story. After they've written 3 or 4 of these, you might like to ask them to choose their favourite and expand on it for home work. Some example starters follow. I find the best way to catch imaginations in this activity right from the word go is to present an unfinished sentence, rather than simply a title or full first sentence.

On the highway between the two towns,...
Among the crowd of onlookers,...
Next to the button on his shirt,...

Hurrying away and looking directly at no-one,...
Stretching his neck to see better,...
Looking towards the vast horizon,...

After the search party had checked the field,...
As soon as the bell stopped ringing,...
Until the plane touched down,...

Bringing in pictures as prompts works well, but I find Korean learners need a fair amount of practice of creative thinking before this is tried.

Used as a warmer (or even in the last few minutes of class), this fast activity reinvigorates, keeps them on their toes and keeps those creative juices flowing!

Also, I adore the section on 'persuasive voice': the art of using intelligent reasoning, facts and feelings to convince someone to do something. However, they're not of the banal "Convince your boss to give you a raise" variety. Clicking the sentence generator yields such gems as "Convince your brother to grow a beard", "Convince a space alien to join a dance troupe" and "Convince your teacher to buy you an elephant".

EFL - Piff!

The time has come once again to revel in the pre-year-2000 romanisation of the name of this city. The Pusan International Film Festival, PIFF, is coming to Busan once again from 6th-14th October. Apparently films have been selling out much faster than usual this year as many detestable souls have been buying up tickets to sell off at inflated prices on

On the theme, here are a couple of tried and tested class ideas tenuously related to Asia's best* and biggest film festival (*Time Asia, Nov. 2004):

Brainstorming/writing movie outlines.

1. Pick up a copy of the movie listings for the festival. Select a handful of film titles that could be interpreted in various ways and write these on the board. Some examples from this year are: The Child, Big River, One Summer with You, Reaching Silence, Ghosts, Love is a Crazy Thing, Waiting, Five is Too Many, The Shoe Fairy, Writing on the Earth, The Hero, Holiday.

2. In small groups, students should agree on one of the titles that inspires them. From this, they can brainstorm ideas, choosing one they feel they can adequately flesh out, and create an outline or storyboard.

3. With the rest of the class listening interestedly as the film company execs, each group in turn should make a short presentation (the more dramatically performed, the better) to try sell their idea for big bucks. The film execs can say yay or nay, or give suggestions for further development.

Mix and Match.

Following the same broad plan as above, in pairs or small groups, students should choose a number of elements from each of the categories below (again, mainly from the PIFF screenings guide) and weave them together into a possible film outline or storyboard. Of course, they're free to throw in their own ideas too.

Possible Characters -- an ageing shopkeeper, a man just out of prison, a high-flying professional woman, a small dog, a famous singer, a political activist, a hot-shot reporter, the mummy of an ancient queen of China, a woman in a wheelchair, a transvestite, a stripper, a wise old man, the President, a pair of lovers, a busker, a theif, a monster, a reluctant hero,...

Possible Happenings -- an adopted baby, a fierce war, New Year's Eve, a gunshot in the night, a bombing at a nightclub, a daring robbery, a life-changing journey, a theft, a suspicious phone call, a duel, a boxing/sumo match, a marriage of convenience, explosions, a car chase in [insert city of your choice here], a bank robbery,...

Possible Themes -- love, hope and destiny; loneliness; fear; desire; the chaos of life; displacement and foreignness; freedom; personal and social responsibility; marriage; the importance of community; changes in life; journeys; language barriers; eternal love;...

Oily Korean - 느끼-하다

느끼-하다 neu-kki ha-da
very oily, unrefreshing and disagreeable
Usage: most commonly used as 느끼해(요), neu-kki hae(-yo).
To me, French sounds slimy.
That Elvis impersonator is so slimy/sleazy.

Some similar English words:

Literal translation: greasy - covered with or full of fat or oil
Collocations: greasy food/dishes/skin/hair

oily - Literal translation: 2 covered in oil or containing a lot of oil:
an oily rag; oily fish
Eg. I've got oily skin (= it produces a lot of oil).
3 too friendly and polite in a way that is not sincere

sleazy - dirty, cheap or not socially acceptable, especially relating to moral or sexual matters
Eg. This part of town is full of sleazy bars and restaurants.

slimy - DISAPPROVING If you describe a person or their manner as slimy, you mean that they appear to be friendly but in a way that you find unpleasant
Eg. He was the very worst sort of slimy salesman.

seedy - looking dirty or in bad condition and likely to be involved in immoral activities
Collocations: a seedy hotel; the seedy characters (hanging around outside the bar)

indecent - morally offensive, especially in a sexual way
Collocations: an indecent act/photograph
Eg. She accused him of making indecent suggestions to her.

smutty - DISAPPROVING related to magazines, books, pictures, films, jokes or conversations which offend some people because they relate to sex
Eg. I was really embarrassed by his smutty jokes.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

등산 / Hill walking

Today, for the very first time, I hiked my way up to the top of one of Busan's most well-known hills, Mt. Hwang-nyeong (황령산 - 427m), and then across the ridge to Mt. Geum-nyeon (금련산 - 417m). I've been meaning to do this for ages in fact, especially as I now live at the base of Hwang-nyeong and look at the multi-coloured broadcasting tower on its summit as I walk home each evening. The climb is steep, slippery (wear sensible shoes) and heart-pounding, but the views out over the winding sea of apartments which is Busan are quite spectacular. I feel quite invigorated! Must do it again soon.

If you're interested, there are a few suggested routes here.

오늘 나는 처음으로 부산의 유명한 산들 중 하나인 황령산의 정상에 등반하곤 산등성이를 따라 금련산까지 걸었다. 사실 오랫동안 이걸 할 작정이 있었었는데, 특히 지금 황령산의 산기슭에서 살고 있고 저녁마다 집으로 걸어가는 길엔 정상에 있는 다색의 방송탑(?)을 보기 때문이다. 기어오르기가 험준하고 미끄럽고 가슴이 쿵쾅 뛰게 하지만 아파트의 친친 감기는 바다인 부산의 전망이 훌륭하다. 기운이 솟는다! 곧 다시 해야지.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


The person I'm writing this for should understand my reasons...

Love begins with a smile, grows with a kiss, and ends with a teardrop. - Anonymous [사랑이 미소부터 시작하고 키스와 커지고 눈물로 끝난다.]

'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. - Alfred Lord Tennyson [전혀 사랑한 경험이 없는 것보다는 사랑해서 실연하는 편이 낫다.]

Him that I love, I wish to be free -- even from me. - Anne Morrow Lindbergh [내가 사랑하는 그는 자유로워지기를 바란다. 나에서도.]

The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost. - G. K. Chesterton [뭘 사랑하는 방법은 그것을 잃어버릴 수도 있을 것을 깨닫을 것이다.]

There is no remedy for love but to love more. - Henry David Thoreau [상랑은 더 사랑하는 수밖에 치료법이 없다.]

(For those of you who have sent me concerned e-mails, thank you for your consideration, but it's about a poor little lost dog...)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Very Korean 4

A few more useful Korean phrases:

잘-나다 [-라-] jal-la-da
This is most commonly heard as 잘났다, meaning something like an ironic "Great!" or "Oh, well done!"

길치 gil-chi
A person who has absolutely no sense of direction.

몸치 (춤치) mom-chi (chum-chi)
A person who has two left feet. An abysmal dancer.

음치 eum-chi
A person who's tone deaf.

기계치 gi-gye-chi
A person who's terrible with machines.


왕자병 (환자) wang-ja byeong (hwan-ja)

Literally, (a person suffering from) "prince sydrome". A derogatory name for a man who acts as though he's under the illusion that he is a great and noble prince.
Eg: 와, 철수 왕자병 심하다. Wow, Cheol-su's seriously stuck up. OR Cheol-su's on a serious ego trip.

공주병 (환자) gong-ju byeong (hwan-ja)

Literally, (a person suffering from) "princess syndrome". A derogatory name for a woman who acts as if she's under the illusion that she is a great and noble king. A completely stuck up or self-important girl or woman.

꽃미남 ggom-mi-nam

A man who looks 'beautiful like a flower'. A guy who looks very effeminate. A pretty boy. A fop.

붕어 bung-eo

Literally, a fish. A singer who usually mimes [mouths along / lip-synchs] to songs.

Eg: 저 가수 또 립싱크를 하다니 완전 붕어야. [That singer is miming again - what a complete phoney!]

Rules for Better Writing^^

I forget where I first came across this, but I've been reminded of it recently as I'm teaching a number of writing classes at present.

Rules for Better Writing
Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
The passive voice is to be ignored.
Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary.
Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
No sentence fragments.
Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
Be more or less specific.
One should never generalize.
Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
Avoid cliches like the plague.
Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
Don't use no double negatives.
Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
Kill all exclamation points!!!
Who needs rhetorical questions?
If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: resist hyperbole.
Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
Puns are for children, not groan readers.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Poem for Chuseok

Korea's Harvest Moon Festival, Chuseok, is just about here. It's the most important holiday of the year for most Koreans, and a time to kick back and relax for all us expats here. Here's a thought to lead the way:


WHAT is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?—

No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows:

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass:

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

___- W. H. Davies

여 유

그게 무슨 인생이겠는가, 근심만 가득 차
멈춰 서서 바라볼 시간이 없다면

양이나 젖소처럼 나뭇가지 아래 서서
물끄러미 바라볼 시간이 없다면

숲을 지나면서 다람쥐가 풀밭에
도토리 숨기는 걸 볼 시간이 없다면

한낮에도 밤하늘처럼 별 가득 찬
시냇물을 바라볼 시간이 없다면

미인의 눈길에 돌아서서 그 아리따운
발걸음을 지켜볼 시간이 없다면

눈에서 비롯해 입으로 곱게 번지는
그 미소를 기다릴 시간이 없다면

참 딱한 인생 아니랴, 근심만 가득 차
멈춰 서서 바라볼 시간이 없다면

___- W. H. 데이비스

Debating - Baby Steps

I'm being asked to do more debates with my classes, so I thought I might share some of my thoughts and ideas on the subject with the wider teaching community.

This encapsulates my opinion of debating fairly well:
"At a time when issues to do with war, terrorism and civil liberties are so prominent, it’s essential for people to be able to reflect carefully on their opinions and argue rationally," says Waikato University [NZ] debating society vice-president James Anderson.
I also love the analogy [from Select Readings, OUP] that a Japanese/Korean conversation (and, by association, debate) is like baseball and a US/British conversation is like tennis. In Korea, if a topic is presented for debate, it tends to turn into a slow and disjointed affair where one person gives their general opinion on the topic (often with little tangible details or evidence). Then another person gives their general opinion of the topic, with little if any reference to the person who spoke before - like one batsman after the other taking it in orderly turns. On the other hand, Anglophones tend to play off each other, hitting the ball of the debate back and forth as they agree or disagree directly with their counterparts, having to defend their opinions and backhand volleys.

0. introduction
Perhaps help learners come up with some useful phrases for expressing their opinions - In my opinion/view,... I believe/think/feel,... I've heard/read that...
Also bring up possible expressions for agreeing and disagreeing - I agree; you see, the fact is... That's right, because... I don't agree; I think... I understand what you're saying; however... I can't argue with that, but... (It's the continuation that's vital to keeping the debate going, I feel.)
The range of this vocabulary is not too important at this point as the main focus is on the process of debating - these structures are just there to enable learners to practise this skill.

It can be very helpful to give a simple topic for a practice debate - ie. a topic on which people's views are easily polarised. Depending of course on the class, this could be along the lines of "ghosts exist" or "Korean films are better than US ones" or "dogs are far better than cats" or "prostitution should be legalised here".

Hold the debate. Note down any problems in learners' debating techniques (please don't overlook the positives!) and you might also want to take notes on the language used and how it might be reformulated.

Possible steps for further debates:

1. agree on a topic
Many debates are on current hot topics, so recommend that learners should keep themselves informed on current domestic and international events if they are to take part fully. Or, at least give them time to research the topic for themselves.

2. divide learners into two (or possibly more) teams
Because debating is a team event it is important that the the members of each team work together. One team will try to prove why the topic is true/positive and the other will try to prove why it is false/negative.

3. presentation and rebuttal
Each team presents points in favour of their case, giving examples, relevant facts and evidence (organisation and use of facts is also important); and then criticises the (main/central) arguments presented by the other team. Logical arguments are important - showing WHY the other team's main argument is wrong or does not make sense. This takes quick thinking and a sharp eye to spot the opposition's main argument.

Note also the importance of eye contact, body language and tone of voice.

In my experience, in a classroom environment it is useful to find out who holds what opinions and occasionally ask them to argue the opposite of their views. I reckon it can help to open their eyes to others' views of the world.

For a fuller exploration of the topic, see the link here.

a few transcripts:
The first Bush vs. Kerry debate
(spoof Bush-Kerry debate)
Kenneth Clarke vs. Iain Duncan Smith

And a few topics: The Times Debates

Monday, September 12, 2005

Very Korean 3 - 고소하다.백수.쭉쭉빵빵.방콕

고소하다 (go-so-ha-da)
(맛이나 냄새가) 볶은 참깨나 땅콩의 것과 같다 (a taste or smell) like roasted sesame or peanuts
(USAGE: Koreans traditionally seem to think this is deliciousness incarnate)
It can also mean something like "Serves you right!"

Searching for something entirely unrelated on Korean web browser 'Naver', I happened across a page (or, more precisely, many pages) on current Korean buzz words, yu-haeng-eo. (Link at bottom of post.) There's a LOT of information there, so may I recommend that you start at the end - page 107 at the last count - as you're more likely to come across words you've already been using.
한국 웹 브라우저인 <네이버>를 사용해 관계가 없는 걸 찾으면서 한국어의 유행어.신조어에 대한 페이지 (보다, 몇 페이지)를 마주쳤다. 거기 정보는 많는데 벌써 써 오는 단어를 마주칠 가능성이 훨씬 높으니까 난 끝(지금은 107쪽)까지 시작하도록 권한다.

I also hope that, by translating some of these, I can help those Koreans out there who are learning English find a way to express their everyday thoughts in English.
이렇게 이들 중 일부를 번역함으로써 영어를 배우는 한국인들은 자기의 일상 생각을 영어로 표현하게 도와 주기도 바란다.
Some examples / 예:

백수 (baek-su)
A jobless person. As this is a fairly informal term, perhaps it would be useful to translate it as "I'm between jobs." or "I'm out of work." The female equivalent is 백조, baek-jo, which also means 'a swan'.

쭉쭉빵빵 (jjuk-jjuk bbang-bbang)
A student with a perfect/ideal body. Tall and slender with long limbs and full-bosomed.
Eg. 내 걸프렌드는 쭉쭉빵빵이야. (My girlfriend's seriously hot.)

방콕 (bang-kok)
Nothing to do with the Thai capital, this is a person who lives walled up in their room (방에 콕 쳐박혀 사는 사람); or the situation itself of being walled up at home.
Eg. 너 방학동안 방콕했지. (You stayed cooped up at home all through the holidays, then.)

히키코모리(引きこもり) (hi-ki-ko-mo-ri)
In Japanese, this is when a person confines themselves to their room, withdrawing from the real world into their own cocoon. It is a recent Japanese term, defined by the Japanese Ministry of Health as "an individual who refuses to leave their parent's house, and isolates themselves away from society and family in a single room for at period exceeding six months, though many such youths remain in isolation for a span of years, or in rare cases, decades." They avoid family, sleep in the daytime and, like owls, wake at night and watch the TV and video, or surf the Internet. For food they will often search out food made by their family or often instant meals. They have no job. [Probably best expressed in English as "acute social withdrawal".]
Eg. 지난 한해동안 히키코모리로 폐인생활을 했다. (During the last cold snap I lived a castaway's life, shut away from the world.)

Link - click <유행어,신조어>.

Very Korean 2 - 말.대충대충.빨리빨리

높임말 no-pim-mal
an honorific (expression, word)
가리키는 사람이나 사물을 높이는 뜻으로 일컫는 말.
speaking highly of a designated person or revering the their property.

반말 / 낮춤말 bam-mal / nat-chum-mal
(to friends) use a friendly tone; (to elders) show disrespect
듣는 이와 말하는 이와의 관계를 분명히 하지 않을 때나 또는 친밀한 사이에 쓰이는, 높이지도 낮추지도 않는 말. 종결어미 ‘-아/어’, ‘-지’ 따위가 쓰인다.
Used when the relationship between the listener and the speaker is not obviously close or for friendly or close distance, showing neither honour nor lowering. (Using the terminative endings '-a/-eo', '-ji' and so forth.)

대충대충 dae-chung dae-chung
여럿을 다 대충. ~ 끝내다.
adv. (do something to) a large number very cursorily
(USAGE: similar to "Keep it short.")

빨리빨리 bbal-li bbal-li
① 걸리는 시간이 아주 짧게.
taking a very short time, briefly
② 움직이는 도수가 아주 잦게.
moving a number of times very rapidly
(USAGE: a Korean expression of impatience, similar to "Get a move on!")

달콤한 인생 / A Bittersweet Life

Over the weekend, I borrowed a number of DVDs, among them the Korean film "A Bittersweet Life".

There's a scene where the white-haired gang boss succintly sums up my past and present experience of the Korean management style:

"오야가 누군가에게 실수 했다고하면 실수한 일이 없어도 실수한 사람은 나와야 되는거죠. 간단하게 끝날 일인데." (If the boss says you're wrong, then you're wrong, even if you didn't really do it. Then it's over. Period.)

The story's about a vengeful psychopath (in a film full of vengeful psychopaths) who shows one iota of human warmth and is punished violently for it. The moral seems to be two-fold: never show mercy to anyone; vengeance is the only way to resolve your troubles. Very bleak, but the acting is notable.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Two, difficult, too difficult tonguetwisters

Courtesy of Fuzzy.

Three witches watch three Swatch watches. Which witch watches which Swatch watch?

Three switched witches watch three Swatch watch switches. Which switched witch watches which Swatch watch switch?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Go and open the door / 가서 문을 열어라

A good friend is heading off to London tomorrow for a number of months (typhoon permitting) and so this poem by Miroslav Holub (and my attempt at a translation) is dedicated to her.

Go and open the door.
___Maybe outside there's
___a tree, or a wood,
___a garden,
___or a magic city.

Go and open the door.
___Maybe a dog's rummaging.
___Maybe you'll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
__________of a picture.

Go and open the door.
___If there's a fog
___it will clear.

Go and open the door.
___Even if there's only
___the darkness ticking,
___even if there's only
___the hollow wind,
___even if
______________is there,
go and open the door.

At least
there'll be
a draught.

가서 문을 열어라.
___아마 밖에
___나무나 숲,
___불가사의한 도시가 있는지도 모른다.

가서 문을 열어라.
___아마 개가 뒤져찾고 있는지도 모른다.
___아마 얼굴이나
한 그림의
_______그림을 볼지도 모른다.

가서 문을 열어라.
___안개가 있으면
___걷힐 것이다.

가서 문을 열어라.
___비록 똑딱거리는 어둠만
___비록 싱거운 바람만
가서 문을 열어라.

있을 것이다.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Having spent far more time than necessary on the 'Net, I can assure you there are plenty of websites that allow you to study English. However, for those of you who want to move away from the too often forced and unnatural English found in textbooks, study tapes and classrooms and into the real world, here are some links for those of you who actually want to learn.
나는 인터넷에 너무 많은 시간을 보냈으니 장담컨대 study할 수 있게 하는 웹페이지가 충분하다. 그렇지만 교과서와 공부 카세트와 교실에서 발견 된 너무 자주 억지로 만드고 부자연스러운 영어에서 빠져 나오고 싶은 여러분 위해선 여긴 진짜 learn하고 싶은 여러분 위한 링크들이 있다.

to listen to online radio
Browse the listings and choose your genre

New Zealand_ Canada
USA (New York City - FM and AM)

Popular genres:
News / Talk - 뉴스 / 대화
Sports - 스포츠
Hit Radio / Top 40 - 히트 음악 / 톱 40
Contemporary - 현대 음악
Rock / Alternative - 록 / 올터너티브

to watch online TV

to talk about
for intriguing and bizarre world news
for thought-provoking conversation questions
common Korean problems
blame/criticise, fun/funny, lecture/class

to learn/practise phrasal verbs (with sound)

Learning Korean 한국말 배우기 - all articles

Anatomy 101 / Anatomy 102 - English body parts you can verb, with Korean equivalents

Oily Korean - 느끼하다
'Flirting' in Korean

Very Korean 1 - 정 한 왕따 눈치
Very Korean 2 - 말 대충대충 빨리빨리
Very Korean 3 - 고소하다 백수 쭉쭉빵빵 방콕
Very Korean 4 - 잘났다 길치 왕자병

Crème de la Crème des 'Weblogs'

Although I know those blogs with ten links per paragraph are a huge turn-off, this entry is just a select list of interesting links, a handful of the best weblogs I stop by on a regular basis. (In the order I discovered them.)


David's TEFL Smiler

Steve Kaufmann's The Linguist on language

Ed's Gumbi and Marley

EFL Geek (The artist formerly known as Blinger)

Jiri's Czech EFL (The artist once known as Truly Bohemian)

AJ's Effortless Acquisition
(and hence the ever-inspiring Creating Passionate Users)

Marco Polo's Autono Blogger

Brett Moller